Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Not Kosher

As a product of the Israeli pretend secular public education system, I recall being taught about the Bible’s rules concerning Kosher food. I recall being told one of the key justification for prohibiting food such as pork was health related: these animals live in the mire, and at the time there were no facilities allowing their safe handling.
This hygiene based argument made sense, even if it failed to explain why Jews continue to abide by it today. It appears as if such exclusions are to do with the religion’s core philosophy: Judaism regards itself as some sort of an elite club of chosen people, hence it enforces such exclusions. Christianity, on the other hand, designed as it was to service the Roman Empire, is more to do with distribution and assimilation. Hence its “come forward and enjoy thy bacon” attitude. Bacon goes a long way in the selling/convincing department.
Mmm, bacon...

Recently, I bumped into another explanation for why Judaism came up with its Kosher regulations. It argues that Kosher rules are there to prevent Jews from taking part in that most basic of human rites together with would be non Jewish partners: the ritual of sharing a table and having a meal together.
If your core concern is the self preservation of your group's identity, then preventing members from being able to contact non members is a pretty effective method for achieving that. It’s deadly simple when you think about it and when you recall that our main way of socialising with one another is through shared meals and drinks. Plus, let’s face it, Judaism’s record in the self preservation department is admirable, having survived that long with all the prosecutions it went through.
Yet questions must be asked. At the personal level, I need to ask myself why I accepted school’s reasoning so easily and failed to realise the hidden motivation for myself. More importantly, at the global level, us humans need to ask ourselves why we are still letting such nonsense divide us?  Surely, in the face of global threats ranging from nuclear weapons to global warming we need to unite! Yet the majority of the best of our minds occupies itself with bullshit that, by design, is there to divide us.
File for the next time someone tells you religion is a force for good.

Image by scazza_, Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) licence 

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